Introducing the Australian Energy Efficient Street Lighting Counter

Throughout Australia there is somewhat of an energy efficiency revolution occurring with local governments installing energy efficient street lighting such as LEDs to replace old inefficient and expensive technology. Lights are being changed over in their hundreds of thousands and it’s only been in the last few years that these projects have exploded into the mainstream. 

To celebrate this achievement and to congratulate the hard work of local government officers, managers, elected members and local government associations, Ironbark Sustainability has launched the Energy Efficient Street Lighting Counter, an online counter that tracks the number of energy efficient street lights that have been installed by Australian councils. 

With every light that is changed over, councils and ratepayers are saving money and reducing greenhouse emissions – hundreds of millions of dollars and millions of tonnes of greenhouse gas abatement.

The Old Barriers…?

For Australian councils, the focus on energy efficient street lighting has been gaining strength since the mid-1990’s. In 2011 Ironbark was engaged by the Federal Government to develop the National Strategy on Energy Efficiency on Street Lighting. As a part of the development of this strategy we collated information on barriers to improving street lighting energy efficiency in Australia via a nation-wide survey. 

The survey demonstrated that over the last decade Australian councils have faced numerous challenges in installing new energy efficient street lights - primarily around the high capital costs, lack of expertise and relationships with Distribution Network Service Providers (DNSPs) who own the lights, poles and wires.

However there are massive savings to be made by councils, who pay for the electricity and on-going maintenance of public lighting. By installing new energy efficient lights such as LEDs and compact fluorescents, councils can reduce energy use by nearly 80% light. New lights also cost much less to maintain and can subsequently offer exceptional returns on investment. 

.... Barriers Overcome!

The traditional barriers that councils faced have been overcome in many jurisdictions. Over the last few years the local government sector has seen energy efficient street lighting projects implemented and more efficient technology approved for use. 

From Brisbane to northern NSW, through inner Sydney and Adelaide, swathes of Victoria and parts of WA, lights have been changed. And councils are reaping the financial and environmental rewards. In Brisbane City Council, nearly 20,000 lights have already been changed over while the City of Sydney's LED changeover covers street and park lighting. In Victoria nearly 60 councils are seeing a total of 232,000 lights changed over, which is cumulatively the second largest energy efficient street lighting program in the world. Yep, the world.

Victorian councils have been making the most of the MAV Street Lighting Program and bulk materials tender panel, which has seen additional financial and resource savings. Many Victorian councils have already completed their changeovers and the projects literally spread the length and breadth of the state – from the City of Wyndham to the Shire of Yarra Ranges to rural and regional partnerships like Watts Working Better, that stretches from Central Victoria to the Murray River. 

The Energy Efficient Street Lighting Counter

The size and impact of these projects cannot be underestimated. To put it simply, over 60 Australian councils are in the process of completing (or have already completed) their single greatest energy reduction project ever, as well as their single greatest greenhouse gas reduction project ever.

The Energy Efficient Street Lighting Counter tracks the number of energy efficient street lights that have been installed by Australian councils. It also calculates the cumulative greenhouse gas abatement of these projects – in real time.

The savings from changing the lights comes at a time when councils have also demonstrated that by working collaboratively and strategically they have managed to save millions of dollars in street lighting maintenance costs.

Target: 2,303,896

While tens of thousands of lights have already been changed over, there are many more to come. When Ironbark developed the National Strategy on Energy Efficiency on Street Lighting we also collated information on the number of street lights Australia-wide and at last count there were 2,303,896.

So changing all of the street lights in Australia means changing 2,303,896 lights. This is a big target and no organisation can achieve it alone. 

Ironbark encourages local governments, roads authorities, DNSPs and stakeholders Australia-wide to get in touch with those councils that have already successfully completed projects.

We’re also excited at the chance to apply our own learnings and experience to any organisation wanting to change their lights to more efficient alternatives. Ironbark only works for councils and you can contact us at any time to chat about how to make this target a reality.


How can my organisation contribute to the 2,303,896 target?

How does the calculator work and what are the assumptions? 

  • For more information on the figures, the nuts and bolts of the calculations and assumptions just contact us and we’ll provide you with all you want to know.

Is my council's project included in the calculator?  

  • If you're not sure if your council’s street lighting project has been included in this calculator just contact contact us and we'll fill you in. 

How does the "total greenhouse gas abatement" compare to other projects? 

  • It's hard to compare because it's so large. To give some context and comparison to the greenhouse gas abatement figures, we have to review the old Cities for Climate Protection’s (CCP) annual “Measures Reports”. These Measures Reports would essentially aggregate the cumulative council emissions reduction across every council that was a participant in CCP. In the last year of the program in 2008 there were 240 councils participating in CCP covering 84% of the population. Looking back at historical data from the final 2006-2007 financial year the cumulative corporate (or internal council operations) emissions reduction across the whole country in that year was 569,859 tonnes of abatement. Jump over to the calculator to make the comparison!